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Virus Cases Rise In 37 States As Americans Celebrate July 4th; Steve Houser, National Fireworks Association President, Discusses Surge In At-Home Fireworks Sales Amid Cancelled July 4th Public Displays; Interview With Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; CDC Director Says U.S. Needs To Modernize Contact Tracing; Florida Seniors May Swing Away From Trump In November. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 4, 2020 - 16:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Happy Fourth of July. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Yes, Fourth of July weekend, and like everything else in our lives right now, there's nothing normal about it. The coronavirus pandemic has taken the normal out of literally everything.

New infections are skyrocketing in more than half the country right now, setting disturbing records in some states and still Americans are making a choice this weekend. A, to celebrate Independence Day outside around people, some cases, there are large gatherings happening. Or B, play it very safe, following public health advice to gather only with people they know and with a face mask close by.

Take a look at Washington, D.C., right now. This is the National Mall. President Trump will host a big public celebration there tonight with music, military demonstrations, and fireworks.

No need for you to go anywhere. We'll have live coverage right here for you on CNN to enjoy so you can stay safe.

But the president barely mentioned the pandemic at his speech last night at Mt. Rushmore, where, as you can see, several thousand people sat closely together. Only a few of them had masks on.

This, despite the news breaking shortly before that speech that top Trump campaign staffer Kimberly Guilfoyle tested positive for the coronavirus. Guilfoyle is the girlfriend of the president's son, Don Trump Jr., and was in South Dakota preparing to attend that event.

Elsewhere around the country right now, we have live looks. This is from Ocean City, Maryland. And the beach, you can see, is open, unlike in South Florida and the Los Angeles area, beaches there are more or less off limits today.

Let's begin in Florida, the hardest-hit state just posted 11,445 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, another daily record, and that's in line with some of the worst single day numbers we saw here in New York back in April. CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us now from Clearwater Beach in Florida.

And, Boris, the staggering numbers haven't stopped beachgoers from celebrating the Fourth where you are. What are you seeing? What are you hearing?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Ana, there are fewer people here than usual for Fourth of July weekend, according to locals that we have spoken to. Nevertheless, families are still coming out to enjoy a day on the water, on the sand. We've seen different people playing all sorts of sports, kids playing in the sand.

Keep in mind, the numbers that we're seeing in Florida are staggering, as you noted. Over the last three days, the first three days of July, we've seen more than 30,000 cases in the sunshine state. We saw all of -- more than 100,000 in the entire month of June despite that, as I get out of the way here, folks are gathering in pretty sizable groups. There's a sign down there that says you shouldn't gather in groups larger than ten.

We've seen folks breaking those rules. It asks that folks stay six feet apart if they're not living in the same household. Well, a lot of people, we've seen pretty big crowds gathering around the showers to get the sand off before they start heading home, so enforcing these rules is a bit difficult.

A short time ago, we spoke with a young man who says that he actually thinks that he caught coronavirus earlier in the year. He says he got better and that nothing was going to stop him from celebrating Independence Day on the water.

Listen to more of what he shared with me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not necessarily concerned, more or less. I believe in our immune systems and the natural way that the human body works, and that's how it's gone for generations. So, as far as I'm concerned, I think we'll be all right. Well, it's not more about the partying. It's about celebrating America and our Independence Day.


SANCHEZ: To be fair, Ana, the majority of people that we've spoken to out here have stressed just how many precautions that they're taking, whether it's hand sanitizer, social distancing, wearing masks, et cetera.

But the fact is, we are likely going to see a sizable surge after the Fourth of July weekend, not just here in Florida but across the country. We saw something very similar after Memorial Day weekend when crowds were gathering to celebrate that holiday. Really keep your eye, over the next few weeks, on the numbers. They will likely continue to rise -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK, as we look that map of the state -- thank you, Boris Sanchez. We'll check back with you shortly.

Just moments ago, we saw this over Boston where Air Force Thunderbirds, along with B-1, B-2, B-52 bombers as well as others, F- 15, F-22, Marine Corps, F-35 fighter jets were all flying in five different waves over that city to commemorate its role in the birth of the United States.


The planes flew over the center of Boston, then over the USS Constitution and finally over Fenway Park.

We'll continue to bring you those images as we get more looks at flyovers happening across the country leading up to the big celebration in D.C. this evening.

But let me take you to California next, where surging case numbers have led to record hospitalization rates and ICU admissions. In Los Angeles County, the epicenter in California, at least, the health services there, the director there says they may run out of hospital beds and ventilators in the coming weeks.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is joining us now.

And, Paul, beaches are closed across much of the state for the holiday. So, what are people doing there to celebrate?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're celebrating in different ways and as you pointed out, a lot of cases in California, about a quarter million now, but this is Huntington Beach and usually people would be on this beach right now and the quote from Tom Petty, vulnerable to rock and roll analogies, into the great wide open.

Look at all of that empty sand, and now, joining us, Van Arsdales.

I'm going to ask you first, describe for me what the scene would normally look like and what do you make of what people are doing? You're decorated in your Fourth of July vest to sort of make up for it.

RENEE VAN ARSDALE: Well, normally, there would just be a sea of people here. There would be lots of rescues on a day like today with the surf this big and you could barely get through on the bike trail but today it's mostly locals enjoying the sun and the beauty of the beach instead of being on the beach.

VERCAMMEN: And as you said, you were once rescued in surf like that when you were 15. I love your undying optimism. She found silver lining in her own husband here, Gary.

So, you had your own sort of neighborhood parade.

GARY VAN ARSDALE: Yes, we had a parade today, just in our local neighborhood. It's called the Hopeview Track. And about, oh, I would say, a couple hundred people came on bikes and buggies and things and I got decorated with my scooter and flags and things like that, and we just buzzed around the neighborhood, chitchatted with folks and we had to do our own parade this year. First time in quite some time that Huntington Beach has not had their regular parade, since the '30s or something like that.

VERCAMMEN: Yes, and I'll note that that parade, thank you so much, Van Arsdale. I'll note that that parade draws about, oh my goodness, almost half a million people a year.

They are all out on the streets waving flags and all that, and what the city did do is they had another little parade, different from the neighborhood parade that the Van Arsdales had, where they had dignitaries and about two separate caravans of 20 cars each and that included a lot of VW buses, because this is Surf City, USA, and they were offering the surfers' roots and many a surfer has hauled their boards on a VW bus.

So, Huntington Beach found other ways to get around the closures that are up and down this California coast.

Back to you now, Ana.

CABRERA: It's good to see people at least in the images you're showing us doing it the responsible way.

Paul Vercammen, thank you.

Let's take you to New York where the numbers are holding fairly steady. The rate of new positive tests has been quite low, around 1 percent. But still officials are being cautious.

And CNN's Polo Sandoval is on Coney Island, traditionally a huge draw for July 4th revelers.

Polo, set the scene there for us today.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, the families are out and about on the beach because they can finally do that this summer, especially with lifeguards posted. They're also walking on that iconic boardwalk that we're standing on here at Coney Island and most of the folks who are out, I say most, are exercising those precautions or making sure they can keep that distance between themselves and others and then, of course, using those masks. If they don't have masks, park employees are out and about, handing those masks out, especially for those who cannot, of course, maintain that distance.

Those numbers that you mentioned are certainly key. Many of those numbers that authorities here are using to gauge whether or not we go on to the next phase. There is that positivity test rate of about 1.1 percent, for example, which is much better than what we saw before. Also, number of hospitalizations, the number of confirmed cases, there was a slight uptick yesterday when the governor was saying that the numbers nearing 900 for the first time since mid-June, that was slightly concerning.

This morning, those numbers going back down about 200. So authorities certainly want to see the numbers stay that way. And then finally, there is some concern in neighboring New Jersey, mainly in the city of Hoboken today, I had a chance to speak to the mayor there who says that the last two days, they noticed a slight uptick in COVID cases. They are minor and many of them asymptomatic.

But the concern is that many of these people were traveling from states that are considered -- seeing those high numbers, mainly in the south and in the west and that's why, Ana, that travel restriction remains in place for Connecticut, New Jersey, and also, of course, for New York. Anybody traveling from high-risk areas supposed to be quarantining for two weeks.

CABRERA: OK, Polo Sandoval in New York, thanks for that live look.

To the nation's capital now where a day after urging his supporters to gather at Mount Rushmore, President Trump is playing host to what is expected to be another crowded Fourth of July event with music, flyovers, and fireworks.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is there.

Alex, tell me what kind of turnout you are seeing so far, and looks like it's pretty quiet.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is pretty quiet so far, Ana. Those celebrations that you mentioned, those flyovers, the fireworks, all that set to begin in just under two hours' time.

So, there's still time. It's pretty sparse out here. It's fairly empty. You can see the lawn behind me is pretty much, well, void of anybody right now.

People certainly keeping their distance. Most of the people who have gathered here, Ana, are right up there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. That, of course, one of the most important monuments here in Washington, D.C., one of the most popular when it comes to the tourists.

I was just up there trying to get a sense of, you know, where people are coming from, why they wanted to come down here, whether anyone, as you say, is going to be wearing masks today. I got to say, the vast majority of the people up there are not wearing masks.

They are, to some extent, keeping their distance, although that is going to be one of the most concentrated areas for people coming down here for the Fourth of July. That is going to be one of the best vantage points for the flyovers, and for those fireworks.

Speaking to a young couple up there, they had just come over from Arlington, Virginia, so just over the bridge. They said that they weren't too worried about the crowds. They felt the virus had been overhyped.

But it is a serious concern for all sorts of authorities. The National Park Service, I spoke with them. They said they are not going to be enforcing the CDC guidelines of wearing masks and social distancing, but they will certainly be encouraging people to do so.

On my way in, I spoke with a park ranger who was handing out some of the 300,000 cloth masks that are available for people out here. She said that people were readily taking them. Ana, it must be said that there is a conflict when it comes to this celebration here in Washington, D.C., because it is being thrown by the Trump administration. It is the White House that has called for this celebration.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Washington, D.C., has canceled all of the city's celebrations. She has said that she didn't want to see this take place because of the dangers presented by the coronavirus. She has asked everybody to stay home, to celebrate around their homes.

The chief of police, Peter Newsham, saying that it would be dangerous for people to come down here, but, Ana, as we were saying, so far, the crowds are very thin, but they do have quite some time to gather before the celebrations get under way -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK. So, we will see what happens in the next couple of hours. Alex Marquardt, thanks for being there.

It's a Fourth of July like no other, an evening of fireworks and an all-star musical line-up here on CNN --

MARQUARDT: Thank you.

CABRERA: -- with Jewel, Barry Manilow, Don McLean and many more. Don Lemon and Dana Bash host CNN's Fourth of July in America live tonight starting at 8:00 Eastern.

So, on this Fourth of July, we're seeing scenes like these. These are live pictures from the Ocean City, Maryland, filled beaches, not a ton of social distancing but also not super packed, which is good. And we know that there are new cases of coronavirus spiking in many states this weekend. We'll hear what doctors have to say about it next.


CABRERA: Happening now, crowds of people gathering today for celebrations. This is in New York in Coney Island. You can see people turning out but not in huge, crowded numbers, at least so far.

Let's discuss with CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Celine Gounder, the host of "The Epidemic" podcast, and the former New York City assistant commissioner of health.

Dr. Gounder, what kind of advice do you have for people who have decided to venture out today?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Ana, I think it's the same things that we have been saying for months now, which is, trying to remain six feet apart from people who are not in your family bubble, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, and you know, by the way, we probably also want to put some sunscreen on given that you're out in the sun on a very hot day. But, you know, I think these are things that people have been hearing for a long time. I think the question is, really, do they take this problem seriously enough to abide by those recommendations?

CABRERA: What do the numbers tell you? What does the data tell you?

GOUNDER: Well, it depends on where you're talking about. In New York City, we're actually doing pretty well. Hospitalizations are down tremendously. Most of the people we see now in the hospital with COVID are people who have been there for the past month or two and who are still recovering.

In much of the rest of the country, especially the South and the West, that is not the case, although there are some major data gaps in that. Some of the states, for example, Texas and Florida are not reporting the numbers of people in their ICUs and on ventilators, and that has many of us very concerned about what those numbers actually are that they're hiding.

CABRERA: Especially when you look at numbers like we got from Florida today, their daily case count being over 11,000 on par with some of those daily numbers we saw here in New York at the height of the pandemic here in this state.

I want you to take a listen to the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, when he was asked about whether people should attend large gatherings, including those held by the White House this weekend.


DR. JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: It's not a yes or no. Every single person has to make up their own mind. There are going to be people going to beaches, going to barbecues, going to different environments and they have to look at their individual risk.

CDC says larger gatherings are a higher risk. You have to take that into account again with whether or not you're at risk, whether you live with someone who is vulnerable and then you have to take measures to stay safe.


CABRERA: Dr. Gounder, do you think that's the right message?

GOUNDER: Well, I think he's missing a very key component which is just because you your own self may be at low risk, you don't have underlying medical conditions, you're fairly young, doesn't mean that you aren't part of the problem because each and every one of us can be part of those chains of transmission, and so if you function as a dead end for transmission by taking these social distancing measures, you're protecting not just yourself.


You're protecting your community. And I would like to think Americans, especially on a day like today,

would really be thinking about their community and their nation and what we can do to protect that.

CABRERA: The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said this week that it is not possible, necessarily, to pinpoint what caused the skyrocketing number of cases we're seeing, especially in Florida, in Texas and Arizona and California.

What do you think?

GOUNDER: Well, you know, I don't think you can pinpoint any one specific thing. For example, bars reopening, you know, certainly that contributed. But I think big picture, we do know what are the measures that can curb this, and that is going to mean readopting, and if they weren't ever adopted in the first place, things like wearing a mask.

That measure alone can dramatically, by half, cut transmission, and so that's a very, you know, minor thing that we can be doing that really doesn't infringe on our freedom of movement, our freedom of association, but that can make a huge difference in terms of transmission in the community.

CABRERA: Dr. Fauci also spoke about the lack of a unified approach across the U.S. and the variety of pandemic strategies, depending on the state or region or even city. He says that's, quote, probably to our detriment.

Dr. Gounder, can a scattershot approach work or would an overarching national strategy be more effective?

GOUNDER: Well, certainly, a national strategy would be more effective on many levels. Right now, it's sort of like playing whack-a-mole where we beat down the situation in New York, but it's popping up elsewhere. And that endangers control of the infection everywhere.

It's a little bit like, you know, we in New York are now driving with seat belts on while much of the rest of the country is drunk drivers, you know, and that puts everybody at risk, even if you're the person wearing the seat belt.

So, you know, I really do think we need to have a concerted effort across the country, simultaneously, if you want to really suppress infection and transmission.

CABRERA: Dr. Celine Gounder, always great to have you with us. Thank you for your expertise and happy Fourth of July.

GOUNDER: Happy Fourth.

CABRERA: Let's give you another live look outside right now on this Fourth of July. Live pictures from Orange Beach, Alabama, at this hour, and you can see a lot of what appear to be chairs set up and umbrellas. My eyes aren't deceiving me. And quite a few people in the water. We're going continue to monitor images like this and bring them to you throughout our few hours here on CNN. Thanks so much for keeping me company. We'll be right back.



CABRERA: Welcome back. I want to go back to New York, a city still trying to reopen. The number of new cases of COVID-19 in New York continues to drop with only occasional spikes.

So in an effort to avoid bringing large crowds together, the Macy's fireworks show has been held over a series of nights this year, beginning this past Monday at secret locations and times.

CNN's Alison Kosik joins us now.

But, Alison, tonight's the big finale. So what can we expect?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Ana, I think this time around, I think we're going to see much more toned-down celebrations just because of how the Macy's fireworks show already has handled the event.

You know, usually, New Yorkers, you know, they try to find a nice rooftop to stand on or a nice spot to gather in. Not this year, though. No, not this year because I think this year is about more socially distant fireworks.

You still will see a show. There is going to be action in the skies tonight but the show's going to be much shorter because of what you talked about there. Macy's actually began with this show last Monday all the way through last night. It held these surprise little bursts of fireworks, kind of surprise shows all over the five boroughs of New York.

The whole point of this is to have these mini-shows to give a show, of course, to all the New Yorkers out there but especially to remain socially distant.

Macy's putting out the following statement, saying: To encourage and support COVID-19 safety and social distancing efforts and mitigate the advance gathering of large crowds for an extended period of time, we have chosen to delight New Yorkers with unannounced displays across the five boroughs this year.

Now, those little shows reportedly happened much higher than the usual fireworks show with heights of 1,000 feet or even more. The idea here was to give more people a chance who were still in their homes, a chance to see the dazzling lights in the sky -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Alison Kosik, a creative idea. Thank you.

Of course, this is a Fourth of July like none we've experienced before. The tradition of the big fireworks displays, minimal this year. In fact, "The New York Times" reports 80 percent of holiday fireworks celebrations have been canceled across the country amid the fears that packed gatherings could become hot spots for new outbreaks.

So perhaps no surprise, sales of at-home fireworks are surging.

Steve Houser is the president of the national fireworks association and joins us now.

Steve, what are you finding when it comes to those sales and use of fireworks, and if more people are firing off fireworks tonight at home with social distancing in effect? Do you see this as a benefit for communities or a recipe for disaster?

STEVE HOUSER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL FIREWORKS ASSOCIATION: Well, I think the reason we're seeing such a pronounced increase in consumer fireworks consumption, Ana, is because of the, you know, the COVID restrictions that they're coming out from, and what we're seeing is it's just coincidental with the Fourth of July.


And so this is the first big holiday that citizens have had.

As far as, you know, those communities and those folks doing them in those communities, we're excited about it. And that's one of the reasons we're happy to be here today is to stress the need for safety and good practical use of consumer fireworks because, when used properly, they can be very, very safe.

CABRERA: OK, so walk us through what everyone needs to be talking about in order to stay safe.

HOUSER: OK, the first thing that we always recommend is that you need to be familiar with your local laws and ordinances. Make sure you're doing what you can do legally and responsibly.

Secondly, we want everybody to always read the instructions that are on the fireworks.

And behind me on the graphic, what we've got is a listing of kind of the NFA's top 10. Always block and brace your fireworks. Make sure that you are taking additional precautions to keep them from tipping. Never try to relight a dud firework. Never point fireworks at people. Never hold them in your hand. And always use them as directed on the packaging.

CABRERA: The Fourth of July, of course, is a barbecue and beer holiday. How much of a factor is alcohol consumption in the injuries you see?

HOUSER: I'm glad you asked that question, because, you know, that's another one of our recommendations is to always have a designated shooter.

I actually reviewed the recent CPSC report on accidents, and the serious accidents, one of the common denominators was there was alcohol involved in them.

So we strongly recommend having a designated shooter and adult supervision at all fireworks gatherings.

CABRERA: Is there such a thing as a foolproof firework?

HOUSER: Oh, I don't know. That's a -- that's a good question.

One of the things our industry is doing in terms of fireworks is we're trying to innovate and make safer products.

You know, one of the things that we saw brought to market last year was a cool spark version of a sparkler to where the sparks aren't hot. It's not a metallic-style sparkler. And at the end of its use, it's kind of gone away. There's nothing left to burn or hurt anybody.

So, you know, that's what we're trying to think about as an industry is to produce safe products for the consumer public.

CABRERA: Not everyone is so keen on fireworks. Those who may suffer from PTS considering this a high-stress time. Pet owners see their pets in distress.

What can someone do to be, I guess, more considerate while enjoying the holiday?

HOUSER: Well, those are good, valid points. And you know, we actually, here at my company, introduced a line of fireworks this year specifically designed for those people. They're quiet bursting fireworks in the sky. So, they're what we call low noise, subtle fireworks, if you will.

There's also, in our industry -- and you see it at our trade shows a lot -- there are products out there for pets to calm them. And you know, that's very important. We see those vendors at our trade shows and our gatherings and our expos. So, the industry is mindful of it.

We know that fireworks do come with some inherent noise. But you know, we always just try to -- be good neighbors and try to do everything we possibly can to put the products in the hand of people.

CABRERA: Steve Houser, I really do appreciate all the information you provided. Safety first, obviously, is so crucial.

HOUSER: Absolutely.

CABRERA: Good to have you here. Happy Fourth.

HOUSER: Happy Fourth. Thank you so much.

CABRERA: Thank you.

We've got you covered on this Fourth of July, including fireworks, in an all-star musical line-up with Jewel, Barry Manilow, C.C. Winans, Don McLean, and many more. Don Lemon, Dana Bash will host CNN's "FOURTH OF JULY IN AMERICA," live tonight starting at 8:00 Eastern. We'll be checking in with them a little bit later as well.

These are live pictures from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where, in just a few hours, different eras of fighter jets, bombers and helicopters will fly over the nation's capital. More on what you can expect to see tonight, just ahead.



CABRERA: Welcome back to this Fourth of July unlike any other. But on this Independence Day, the United States of America isn't united on one of the biggest threats facing this nation.

In the absence of a coordinated federal pandemic response, safety regulations have come from state and local officials. And in much of the country, the situation is getting worse, not better, with virus infections rising in 37 states this weekend.

Kathleen Sebelius served as the Health and Human Services secretary in the Obama administration. She is also the former governor of Kansas.

Secretary, thank you so much for joining us, especially on a holiday.

I want to first get your reaction to some of the weekend's events. Florida hitting its highest single-day record of coronavirus cases. And the big crowds without masks or social distancing for the Mt. Rushmore fireworks with President Trump.


CABRERA: You, too.

SEBELIUS: I think the president had and missed an incredible opportunity to be a leader in this fight against the virus.

He could have said to his -- the governor of South Dakota, who's a big fan, please make sure that tickets are limited. Please make sure that people are socially distanced. And please mandate mask-wearing. We intend to all come with masks. We want to mirror this for the country.

Instead, he did just the opposite. The place was crowded. No one or very few people wore masks. The governor insisted that there was no social distancing required.

He's in the -- not only in this great monument area in sacred ground but in the land that is surrounded by Native Americans and belongs to a lot of Native Americans who have the worst health disparities in this entire country.


If there was any sympathy for people who are likely to get this disease in a very virulent stage, who are going to suffer the most from the disease, the president spent no time talking about the virus that has now killed 132,000 people in this country. And the death rate continues day in and day out. No time talking about that. He's all about saving monuments and not

saving lives.

CABRERA: The Trump administration has repeatedly said, no more lockdowns. But again, we had that graphic at the top of the segment showing 37 states right now with cases increasing.

We know some states are reporting situations in which they are very close to being out of ICU room or beds. And we know that the situation's becoming pretty dire in places in Los Angeles County and places in Texas.

Does the U.S. need another stay-at-home order?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think it really -- if the virus continues to rage like this, we have no choice to -- then to have an absolute lockdown again.

States cannot do this on their own. Cities cannot do this on their own. What we need is a national plan, a national response.

My understanding is Houston is entirely out of ICU beds and, in fact, is looking at sending patients to other states.

We have other states around the country where virus is surging, at the same time that colleges. like here in my hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, are talking about bringing students back.

The football team here just suspended early practice because there were so many cases. They're all going to quarantine for a couple weeks.

We have to get a handle on this virus. And it can't be done as it's been shown, a community at a time. The national government, the president of the United States has to step up.

His own governor allies are begging for a response, are trying to persuade their citizens. But as long as we have the president, who continues to model the worst possible behavior, large, crowded events, no social distancing, no wearing of masks.

He's flying into Washington or he did early this morning, so he can repeat this performance in Washington. The local mayor has begged him not to do this, has begged him to leave the ceremonies behind and save lives, but he refuses to listen.

CABRERA: We, so far, aren't seeing the crowds that the White House is expecting there on the National Mall. We'll see if that changes in the next couple hours.


CABRERA: It will be interesting, though, if people do stay away and follow the advice of other people in his administration, people like HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who said the window is closing to contain this virus. Secretary Sebelius, is there anything we can do at this point to stop

the worst? How much time do we have before there's nothing we can do?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think what we're seeing is cases rise day in and day out. We're now at just extraordinary case counts, up above 50,000 a day.

In spite of what the president says, this is not about additional testing. Thank god there's some additional testing going on. Not enough. People are still way behind on figuring out who is asymptomatic.

But we have to ramp up the testing. We have to have a coordinated strategy. Mask-wearing should be mandatory across this country.

I think we need to take a serious look at bars and restaurants, if we want schools to open. If we want parents to be able to return to work and have children in school, which, to me, is a much more important venue than kids hanging out at bars, we must take this really seriously.

I want bar owners and restaurant owners to be able to recover and come back, but we can't continue with the virus spread.

So social distancing, washing your hands, wearing a mask, and making sure that, as limited as possible, inside activities occur, is really essential across this country, because the virus is raging everywhere.

CABRERA: Yes. And you can't reiterate those key things we can do enough.

Thank you so much, Kathleen Sebelius, former secretary of Health and Human Services. And Happy Fourth of July.

SEBELIUS: Thank you.

CABRERA: These are live pictures now from Ocean City, Maryland, where beach goers are enjoying the sun this Fourth of July, even as new cases of the coronavirus are spiking across the U.S.


Our live coverage continues next.


CABRERA: The director of the CDC says the U.S. needs to modernize contact tracing, the people who track anyone who could be infected with the coronavirus. Right now, the system is understaffed and fighting a losing battle against the spread of the virus.

CNN's Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, an army desperately needed in the war against coronavirus is undermanned and losing on the battlefield in states recently hit the hardest.

They're contact tracers, people who track down those who a coronavirus-infected person has had contact with to monitor them for infection.

Public health officials say they're a crucial component to being able to reopen the economy so new cases can be contained. But they say tracers are working in an outdated system.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: They really are in need of aggressive modernization. Contact racing, in this case -- I'll be very quick -- really doesn't have any value unless you can do it in real time.


TODD: And America doesn't have nearly enough tracers.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATS & PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We need to do more, including hiring at least 100,000 federally funded workers to perform contact tracing and other public health tasks.

TODD: One estimate says America needs about 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 people in a community. But a firm called Nephron Research now says, in eight states, the ranks of contact tracers are dangerously low.

Texas only has about 11 contact tracers per 100,000 people. Florida has about seven, Arizona five, and five other states also fall well short.

CRYSTAL WATSON, PROFESSOR & SENIOR SCHOLAR, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: Now as we see a lot more transmission, it's going to be a lot harder to do contact tracing because we really just can't get our arms around the epidemics. They're a bit out of control.

TODD: Crystal Watson, who co-authored a report on contact tracing, says many states did not come up with the resources to hire enough contact tracers.

As for the type of person needed --

ANDREW CUOMO, (D), NEW YORK GOVERNOR: It's a detective, investigator in the public health space.

TODD: Experts say contact tracers have to interview an infected person to get them to help identify anyone they've been in close contact with.

WATSON: You ask them about close contacts, that's within six feet for more than 15 minutes. Anyone who fits that description would be considered a close contact.

TODD: And contact tracers have to race against the clock. Experts we spoke to say they have, on average, less than three days to find someone who an infected person's been in contact with and get that person to isolate.

At this contact tracing center in Arizona, working virtually, a team leader tells us it's time intensive, emotionally taxing work.

DR. KRISTEN POGREBA BROWN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR EPIDEMIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA: Our biggest challenge honestly is just getting people on the phone initially, and talking to them, and then getting them to open up once you get ahold of them.

TODD: And there are more challenges. Experts say contact tracing is now more complicated than ever because of the decisions by some governors to reopen their states so quickly.

WATSON: So as these cases grow and spike because of reopening, and because people have come together in large numbers, it's going to get harder and harder to do that.

TODD: It's getting so difficult that America's top voice on coronavirus says the armies of contact tracers should start acting like real armies.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You can get community people to get boots on the ground and to go out there and look for the people instead of getting on a phone and doing so-called contact tracing by phone.

TODD (on camera): But experts say contact tracers going out in neighborhoods should be from those neighborhoods so they understand the community and the culture.

But they also add another huge challenge with contact tracing is that it's like a police officer trying to get a witness account of a crime -- people's memories of their encounters are often shady and unreliable.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: For a third time this week, Florida registered its highest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases. Could that swing this state in November?

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: If President Trump wants to be re-elected, no state may be more important than Florida. So, will the surge of coronavirus cases in that state hurt him with a key group of voters?

CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports from Florida. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN DUDLEY, RETIRED BANKER & FORMER TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, based on my friends, he doesn't have a chance. He blew it.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Dudley is talking about President Trump, who he supported four years ago but won't again.

DUDLEY: He had everything. We were so excited in the beginning. A businessman to run our country like a business. And it hasn't happened.

All he succeeded in doing was he juiced up the stock market and now that's gone to pot because of the coronavirus.

ZELENY: Dudley is a retired banker and the face of a new Trump Campaign worry, losing the senior vote. Amid summertime signs of anxiety from the beach to testing sites for soaring COVID cases.

Here, in Florida, people 65 and older made up 21 percent of the vote in 2016. Trump won that group by 17 points.

Polls now show Joe Biden with an edge among seniors in key battleground states and nationally.

PATTI WADE, BIDEN SUPPORTER: I just think that this has got to be a wakeup call to a big portion of America. I think a lot of people stayed home in 2016 because they weren't happy with Hillary.

ZELENY: For Trump, there is virtually no path to winning without Florida, which make places like the On Top of The World Retirement Community critical terrain.

PAULA SHELLING (ph), ABANDONED REPUBLICAN PARTY: I had to change parties, I could not do this anymore.

ZELENY: Paula Shelling (ph) abandoned the Republican Party.

Marsha Lundh still considers herself a Republican but not a Trump one.


MARSHA LUNDH, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I hoped that I was wrong in not voting for him and that he would turn out to be a great president. But it didn't happen.

ZELENY: Even loyal Trump supporter, Robert Blethen, wishes the president would do one thing.

ROBERT BLETHEN, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Our president should wear a mask. Because we're doing it -- we're supporting him.

ZELENY: On Florida's gulf coast, Trump won Pinellas County by one percentage point, the same margin he carried the state. Since then, Democrats have seen a new surge in voter registration. [17:00:06]

DONNA LUKIS, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: There are more Democrats now than there used to be in years past.

ZELENY (on camera): Do you know any people who voted for Trump last time who are not going to this time?